Just how do radiant contractors promote radiant heat? Any number of ways - from a new graphic twist for a good, old-fashioned truck to digital pictures posted on a Web site that offer viewers 360-degree panoramic views of work in progress.
To find out what was being done to promote radiant heat, we asked contractors to send us promotions in the five following categories:
- Best Truck
- Best Web Site
- Best Broadcast Ad
- Best Print Ad
- Best Other Promotion
We received more than 40 individual entries to our request. Last May at the RPA's International Radiant Heating Conference & Trade Show, we awarded our Publisher's Choice Award to the five best examples.
Best TruckWilliam Jannone & Sons
Plumbing & Heating
Bound Brook, N.J.
Wet Heads are known for their enthusiasm and Greg Jannone is no exception. Jannone has always been a tireless promoter of radiant heat, whether it be to educate a consumer or help out fellow tradesmen.
"If we tell homeowners about the options they have to heat their homes, people will pay for comfort," Jannone told us in a profile we wrote two years ago. "People don't always leave this up to the bottom line as long as they know they have other choices."
Needless to say, Jannone isn't shy when it comes to putting his name out on the market. Over the years, he's been a regular exhibitor at local home shows and recently appeared on a New Jersey cable program called, "This House, Too," in which he explained the radiant remodeling job he was doing for the home.
But there's nothing to beat how Jannone advertises his expertise on one of his company's newest trucks. "We wanted something with a little bite to it," he told us at this year's RPA Show.
As you can see from our pictures, the paint job will certainly grab attention. But more than that, Jannone affixed pictures of past accomplishments directly onto the surface of the truck. We're not sure exactly how Jannone did this (he wasn't so sure how his truck designer did it either). From the sound of it, the truck designer scanned in the pictures and had them printed on vinyl, which is then affixed to the truck. It's relatively easy to do on the metal surface of one side of the panel truck. While our pictures don't to it justice, it's worth noting that the pictures appear on the window side of the van, too. In this case, the pictures are printed on the material that allows people on the inside to see out clearly. Viewers on the outside, however, see nothing but the pictures.
Although Jannone has only one truck done this way, he plans to add another truck with a similar design to his fleet soon.
Best Web SiteAdvanced Radiant Technology
We received plenty of great examples of contractor Web sites throughout the country - so much so we're sure to highlight other Web sites in future issues.
But the clear winner was also one of the first contractors to embrace this new form of promotion. Before striking out on his own two years ago, Paul Pollets, was instrumental in developing a Web site for a former employer, which most consider to be the first radiant heating contractor Web site.
For such a young company, "the Web establishes our credibility and increases people's confidence in our abilities," Pollets says. "I may have 29 years of exerience in this business, but we still have to show the customer that Advanced Radiant Technology has
Half of his company's business comes from the Web site. Would-be customers routinely visit the site and send various e-mails before actually picking up the phone to make a face-to-face appointment.
Pollets says the site receives between 30,000-40,000 hits from as many as 5,000 visitors every month. More important, Pollets keeps tabs on details such as what page visitors view most and how long each stays.
A big hit is the special digital pictures that allow viewers to literally view a project from 360 degrees. Other popular pages outline the company's philosophy and offer a history lesson about radiant heat. Pollets also routinely flags new additions to the site - for example, updated project photos.
"We wanted this to have a degree of sophistication," he adds. "We didn't want to take a McDonald's approach."
In some ways the site has been too successful. "So far, we've heard from 30 countries," Pollets says. To help out Wet Heads within the border, Polletts has been sending leads to "qualified" radiant contractors on the other side of the country, New England and other traditionally hydronic-heated parts of the Northeast. By qualified, we mean those meeting Pollets' own high standards.
To view the site, click on www.advancedradiant.com.
Best Broadcast AdNorthwest Mechanical
We took some poetic license when it came to picking the winner of this category. Honestly, this was our least popular category with only two "official" candidates for the award.
However, one of the entries in our "Other Promotions" category caught our eye. While it may not be a paid ad, theoretically, viewers would see it on TV. The winning video comes from Northwest Mechanical, no stranger to promotion since the firm won our
"Radiant King" title in last year's promotion contest.
Northwest produced the video about four years ago. The tape shows the hard work that goes into the typical radiant heating job. David Stevens, told us the tape gets its main workout just once a year when it's put on a tape loop as part of Northwest's booth at
the West Coast Home & Garden Show. But what a workout it is considering the show last nine days and attracts attendees from Alaska to Colorado.
"Every day is jam-packed," Stevens says. "Oftentimes we can be surrounded by 25 people. One person talking to so many is impossible. So people can have a chance to watch the tape, gather some insight on their own and then turn to us for questions."
The tape is also given to would-be customers to watch at their convenience at home. Also, Northwest sometimes shows the video during marketing sessions organized for architects.
Best Print AdThe Janes Co.
Some of the credit for the Best Print Ad should go to Infloor Heating Systems, says Steve Janes. The picture shows one of his company's projects, but the catchy slogan is a part of Infloor's own marketing campaign.
But the dedication to advertising belongs all to Janes. "We've done a little of everything," he says. While he can't pinpoint any one particular ad for bringing in business, whether it be this newspaper ad that appeared The Seattle Times, or a Yellow Pages ad, the "conjunction of ads" lends depth his company wouldn't have otherwise.
"It's more than just about winning new business directly from advertising," Janes adds. "If I have a bid already done, and the customer sees our advertisement, well, that promotion gives us an added advantage. It adds to our capabilities and the confidence others have for us."
It must be working: Janes says his company does nothing but radiant heat, and have 100 jobs ongoing at most times.
Best Other PromotionAndy Stack & Sons
As the name suggests "other promotions" was one wide-open category. By and large, we received pictures of home show booths and a customer package that included reusable instant handwarmer.
But in the end, we had to hand our award to Andy Stack for his year-old showroom that provides (literally) a hands-on approach to marketing radiant heat. Thanks to the mass media's embrace of radiant heat, customers walk in know about radiant heat.
"But there's so much more than they don't know anything about that we can really explains with the showroom," Stack told us.
"People can see, touch, feel and hear everything we sell. Once they leave here, they're convinced they really knowing what a radiant floor heating system is."
There's not too much more we can say about Stack that we didn't say in our cover story that appeared in the May PM. Read it one more time and, above all, keep in mind, that Stack gave up higher revenue in the forced air market to sell what he loves - radiant heat.